Investment firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst has said it will delay its $1.4 billion (€1.4bn)investment in Greeley-based ConAgra Beef as the company deals with the second-largest beef recall in US history, said a report in the Denver Post.
"We believe that taking a brief pause in the transaction process is the right decision, giving Con-Agra Beef's management time to focus on successfully executing the product recall and to address their customers' needs," said Hicks Muse spokesman Roy Winnick.
The Dallas firm remains committed to the deal, which was scheduled to close in early August, Winnick said. ConAgra officials said they now expect to complete the transaction by the end of next month.
"The deal's on track and moving ahead. We expect it to close as originally discussed," said Con-Agra spokesman Tim McMahon.
Colorado businessman George Gillett also is part of the deal to purchase 54 per cent of ConAgra Beef and rename the operation Swift & Co.
Analysts and industry watchers say the Swift group may try to renegotiate the deal in the wake of the recall of 19 million pounds of ConAgra's ground beef.
Buying back the product may cost ConAgra up to $10 million, but there will be other expenses related to the recall. ConAgra has agreed to pay an estimated $1 million for some victims' medical bills and lost wages, but the company could face litigation from others. It also could lose customers, though so far only Safeway has suspended purchases.
U.S. and Australian antitrust regulators approved the deal, ConAgra officials said.